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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Long Beach Farmer's Market

Sunday is shopping day.  I hit my local farmer's market in Long Beach near the marina and stock up on freshly harvested, organically grown fruits and veggies while being serenaded by an assortment of musicians playing for tips.  Usually you can find a couple of the same people there every week, but from time to time there are a few other people or bands who will show up. 

I'm afraid I've loaded this post down with pictures.  I hope you enjoy them!

Eggplants galore!
Make sure you bring your shopping bags to carry all your goodies home!

The best thing about the farmer's market is all the free samples!  Everyone is trying to entice you into buying their produce and have all their samples out.  I must say, it is a very effective way to build sales!  Everything tastes so wonderful, I end up buying way more than I can eat!  Who can refuse a fresh, sweet juicy peach, apricot or pluot?  Or a hand-full of blueberries or cherries?  And, you can ask questions regarding where the food came from and how it was grown, when it was harvested, etc. . . . and mostly, they know the answers.  Try that in a regular grocery store! 

If you're feeling a little whimsical, why not stop by the face painter before you start shopping and get a little temporary tattoo to put a smile on your face while you decide between the french fingerling or german butter potatoes.  It may help keep you from getting too serious while making these important decisions!  :-)

There's the mushroom lady who always has a variety of mushrooms that seem to sell out every time.  She is happy to offer suggestions for preparing and serving her produce.

Old Town Baking Company, the bakery with the most delicious sourdough.  I can't get enough of it!  Garlic, cheese bread, anyone?  Holy-moly!  Yum, yum!  Not to mention their dessert breads; chocolate, banana and strawberry breads.  Positively de-lish!

And then there's the olive oil vendor with the best olive oil around, Adams Ranch.  I buy all my olive oil from them now.  They have the light Ava's Acre for salad dressings, and the heartier Manzanilla for dipping.  They will pour out little samples for you to taste so you can be sure to get just the right oil for what you need!

Speaking of salads, if you need the makings for an excellent salad, just look around, you can find everything you need there!  Fresh tomatoes, arugula, spinach, lettuces, onions, carrots, cucumbers, salad mixes, radishes, and on and on!

Weiser Family Farms has a booth there as well, with the best potatoes, carrots, beets and melons.  They have developed a tasty little potato that is purple with yellow spots or stripes.  If you get a chance, you should try them!  They also have garlic and onions.  The varieties of carrots they grow I have never seen before and they are extremely tasty!  I love, love, love them roasted.  In season, they have unusual varieties of melons, that you can't find in the supermarkets, and they are so sweet and buttery smooth.  The vendor is always happy to help you pick out produce and tell you which melons need to be eaten right away and which will be ready in a few days and will give you serving suggestions for anything they happen to have on hand at the moment.

The Peanut Dudes have a wide variety of freshly roasted peanuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts and seeds from which to choose.  They come with a bit of free flirtation and a few laughs.  Sometimes I like to get a bag of still-warm peanuts and just sit and watch the comings and goings in the marina for a little while after I have finished my shopping.  It is very relaxing to watch the boats and water.

The berry stand has absolutely the best berries; strawberries, raspberries (red and yellow), blueberries and blackberries, depending on the season.  When I get the urge to punish myself by making Julia Child's Chocolate Ruffle Cake (a 3 day production) or a Raspberry Roulade (a 2 day event) and need fresh raspberries, this is the place I MUST buy the berries from!

The apple guys will cut an apple into fancy faces for the little ones to enjoy.  Their apples make the best applesauce.  I never knew how easy it was to make your very own applesauce, and it is so much more tasty than the jarred kinds, I am spoiled now!  And I really, really like buying apples without any added wax!  It always seems to add a bitter taste to them.  They also have peaches, pears and lilacs from time to time, in season.  I use their dried apple slices in my home-made granola.  Something I haven't done for a while . . . I think it may be time to whip up a batch soon!

Tasty, super sweet figs!  Try them and they'll make your mouth water for more!

I tried my first fresh figs from this market.  OMG! ! !  My only previous experience with figs was with Fig Newtons and I must say, the fresh version is NOTHING like the taste in the cookies!  I like fresh figs, but they are so delicate and bruise so easily they do not travel well, so you most likely won't find them in conventional supermarkets.  If you get a chance to try them fresh, take it!

Bells of Ireland

Sea Holly

If you have a hankerin' for flowers, the market is the place to go!  You can get all kinds of flowers there.  From orchids and potted plants and trees, to cut flowers; sweet peas to sunflowers, lillies to lilacs, depending on the season.  You can find them here!

Here is a picture of the bounty I ended up with from today's trip to the market.  The sun was going behind the building next to me as I was trying to set this up, spoiling the shot!  It washed out my melon in the back and put the berries in shadow.  But, you get the idea!  Cabbage, Sugar Cube melon, Royal Melon, romaine lettuce, carrots, yellow pear tomatoes, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and apples!  Yummy!

I tried one of the little Royal Melons, like a mini watermelon and a Sugar Cube melon, a variety of cantaloup, I think.  I really enjoy being able to try different varieties of fruits and veggies.  The little yellow pear tomatoes were actually from my garden.  I didn't plant anything this year, but I ended up with 2 huge tomato vines and 3 poblano pepper plants and several basil plants anyway!  All volunteers!  Maybe I will get to a post about my garden one of these days!  

The sights, sounds and tastes of the market all combine to make this one of the best days of the week for me!  I just really wish there was a cheese stall!  ;-)  I really enjoy shopping like this! ! !

For now, I've made myself hungry, so I'm going to go fix some dinner!  I'll leave you with a few more pics of flowers from the market!  See you later!  :-)

Stargazer Lilly - I wish you could smell this beauty!  Heavenly! ! !
When do we get scratch and sniff screens?
Sunflowers - I just loved the way the sun was filtering through
and highlighting these furry looking sunflowers!

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